The Life List: Condensing your Story for Sharing 

I could write a memoir of my life story so far. Problem is, who would read it? I’m not famous. I’m socially awkward and wouldn’t know the first thing about sales or promotion. I know though, that I’ve got a story to tell. 

I know because I have a belief in the divine. The things you return to time and time again, like writing, are not coincidental. We return to our purpose. Writing gives my life a pulse, and puts my heart out there into the world. 

Without further ado, I present to you my life story in a list. The “life list” is easy to read, yet powerful. It is minimal but effective. Check it out and consider sharing yours….you never know who it might inspire, touch, or encourage. After all, the greatest commandment is to love one another…even if it means making yourself completely vulnerable. 

I’ve survived:

An absent (addicted/alcoholic) father

Sexual abuse 

Teenage pregnancy and miscarriage 

Opiod addiction 

Ecstasy addiction

Depression

Anxiety

War (I was in OIF1)

PTSD

Emotional abuse

Alcoholism

Rage and anger issues 

Being physically aggressive 

Suicidal ideation 

Marriage separation 

Grieving a parents death

Social anxiety 

I’ve survived because of:

Jesus

God 

Purpose and calling 

Protection 

Celebrate Recovery

Alanon

AA

Friends

Family

Sponsors

Accountability partners

Battle buddies 

My daughters

My husband

Marriage therapy

Counseling

Psychiatry 

Medications

Coping skills

Stamina

Self will

Stubbornness

Resiliency 

Most importantly…I’ve survived because of the love of others and the father

Consider sharing your “life list” below in the comments. 

Stay sober my friends,

Rachel 

Nature is my Dope. 

For a brief time, we are all connected; God, the earth, and I. Nature is mindful and the mind is full in nature.


Nature is my dope. There’s something about shimmying up a tree trunk, swinging my feet around a limb, and just climbing to the perfect little perch. It’s like all the branches were put there at the perfect distance from each other just for me to explore the wonders of nature. While I’m a little older and busy adulting, all I really want to do is get outside and climb a tree. 

Nature is my serenity. It’s where I hear God. I hear his spirit speaking to me through the birds…through the insects…through the frogs. I hear the Holy Spirit speak to me through the running creek bed, through the wind in the leaves, and through the silence.  


When I see a flower I can’t help but think my creator put it there just for me. I notice even the smallest of petals and appreciate its delicate beauty. Tiny blossoms spring forth messages of new life. 


The forest is a magical place. The barrage of shades of greens and browns overwhelm my senses, as I decipher all the different shapes and textures the forest flora has the offer me. 


The smell of the freshly oxygenated air takes me someplace else entirely. I notice the bark on the trees…the moss….the twigs. The nuts…the berries….all strategically placed amongst the trees to provide nourishment to the forest critters. 


The sky is a reminder of heavenly realms. There are clouds and light and all I can imagine are chubby little cherubs…greeting all who enter heavens gates. The expansive blue sky calms my nerves and resets my soul onto greater things….like purpose. 


For a brief time, we are all connected; God, the earth, and I. Nature is mindful and the mind is full in nature. 

When Jesus says “I Got Your Back” 

Yesterday I experienced the grace of God. I’m not talking about the touchy, feely, grace. I’m talking about the kind that startles you. I’m talking about the grace that left me with my mouth open whispering “WTF…..”

Yesterday I experienced the grace of God. I’m not talking about the touchy, feely, grace. I’m talking about the kind that startles you. I’m talking about the grace that left me with my mouth open whispering “WTF…..” 


Yesterday was my last day at home. I won’t be back for over two weeks so I was determined to make the most of it. I asked my husband if I could bring him anything for lunch. I ended up deciding on pizza, which meant I would have to walk in the rain from the car to the store. Ugh. First world problems right? 

I managed to get the pizza without drowning in the rain. Everything was looking fine, despite the downpour. I was approaching an intersection. The light turned yellow and I decided I should stop so I did. I was the first in my lane facing the intersection. The left green arrow light on the opposite side sent the traffic facing me across the intersection. One guy was not so fortunate and didn’t make it through the intersection. 


Next thing I know he coming at me, full force, skidding sideways. He had no control of the vehicle. He couldn’t turn. He couldn’t brake. His 2,000 pound vehicle was now a trajectory and I was the target. 

I remember thinking “well…shit.” There was nothing I could do. If I drove forward he would hit me or I would hit someone else in the intersection. I couldn’t go right because there was a car parallel to me. I couldn’t go left into oncoming traffic either. I was stuck. 

I was bracing for impact when the screeching of the tires stopped. There was a scraping sound but no thud. I opened my eyes to see this guys vehicle 3 feet from my front bumper. He had slid sideways onto the median to my left. His car was perched on the median with no wheels touching the ground. I sat, dumbfounded, and watched for a minute.

The airbags didn’t deploy, and I could see he was angry. He hit the steering wheel a half a dozen times, screamed some curse words, and threw his hands in the air. I get it. I’ve been there. I waited a minute for him to settle, put on the flashers and approached him. He was clearly upset, but did not need medical assistance and didn’t need me to call anyone. I went about my day. 

The next intersection I was faced with a potential disaster of another sort. I was the second vehicle in line this time with a ditch to my right, and a vehicle to my left. Immediately in front of me was what appeared to be a uniform truck. You know, the trucks that drive around to businesses and pick up and drop off uniforms. 

The driver let off the brake, and the back door of the truck flung open. A rack of freshly laundered uniforms was to the right and directly in front of me was a huge laundry cart full of dirty uniforms. The truck inched forward and the cart started sliding my way. My jaw dropped and all I could do was mouth “WTF?”


As much fun as it would have been explaining this collision to my insurance company, fortunately I didn’t get the chance. The cart jammed between the door and the clothes rack to the right, just in time for me to inch past on the right hand side of the shoulder. 

Two thoughts occurred to me next. First, I realized I was supposed to be making this trip out of town. There were two opportunities to make it a complete disaster and they didn’t stop me. Second, I realized my Daddy was watching. 

I gave thanks to Jesus for being there with me and gave thanks to God (Daddy) for protecting me. It was like there was a force around me that day that was impenetrable. If I let my imagination take control I can see a forcefield around my vehicle and my lord watching over….but let’s not go there. Ain’t nobody got time for that. 

I began this post by talking about God’s grace. Maybe it’s a better example of his mercy, but I was left with a overwhelming sense of grace when all was said and done. After the second incident I pulled over (sorry for the cold pizza, hun). I began crying. I haven’t cried in a while. I thanked Jesus for being there with me. I thanked God for allowing me to go on about my day without any injuries or inconveniences. I prayed for the angry guy, and for the negligent uniform delivery workers. Certainly they were praying for mercy. 

I cried because I don’t deserve the grace of God, but he keeps coming through. I haven’t been attending church. I haven’t been doing devotional time like I should. I haven’t even prayed in quite some time. God came through anyway. 


God reminded me that I can’t earn his love and attention. He reminded me that no matter how distant I am, he is right there beside me. Just when I needed it most, Jesus said “I got your back.” 


Critics can call it coincidence. They can look at the science of each situation and justify why I escaped both situations unscathed. That’s fine, but that’s not how I choose to live my life. 

A big part of any recovery journey is having a belief system in a higher power. I don’t know about you or your journey, but my higher power is a constant reminder of how vulnerable I am. It is a reminder of how easy it is to slip off the path. Most importantly it’s a reminder that Grace wins. Every. Single. Time. 

Current view:


Stay sober my friends! 

Triggered: When music takes you back to the dark times.

The news of Chester Bennington’s death hit me hard. It hit me so hard that I couldn’t write about it until now. I realize what happened inside me when I heard the news, but it didn’t come to fruition until I found myself in my doctor’s office.

Rockstars often go before their time, it really shouldn’t shock anyone anymore. But it still does. Often times, it shocks us because we connect with their music on an emotional level. Sometimes musicians are the only ones with the words or rhythms that describe the mess that’s going on our heads. This connection leads us to bond with those we never even met.

“Do you know what may have triggered your Anxiety/PTSD?” She asked, with genuine care and concern in her voice. My eyes filled with tears. I tried to fight it but it was out of my control. My heart knows what triggered me. “It’s stupid” was all I could mutter. “It’s really, really stupid” I said again. The room was now a blur, my vision was compromised by tears. I felt alone, vulnerable, and helpless. I took control again, and told the doc, “There’s this lead singer of a band. He killed himself. Since then I’ve listened to the music and it took me back to some of the darkest days of my life, and I’ve had a hard time bringing myself back. That’s why I’m here.” She turned back to her computer and began typing a prescription, but only after expressing empathy for all I’ve been through (please don’t judge, my meds are not narcotics and prescription meds are an entirely different article) .

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The news of Chester Bennington’s death hit me hard. It hit me so hard that I couldn’t write about it until now. I realize what happened inside me when I heard the news, but it didn’t come to fruition until I found myself in my doctor’s office. I was desperately seeking relief from anxiety and PTSD symptoms that were triggered by listening to the music created by Linkin Park. The music took me back to two periods of my life that I’ve worked really hard to overcome.

I listened to the first album by Linkin Park, Hybrid Theory, while I was in the midst of drug addiction. I had a miscarriage my senior year of high school. I abused the Vicodin prescribed to me to deal with the emotional pain and trauma I experienced from the miscarriage and social rejection/isolation. I listened to this album on repeat for what felt like months, while I was secretly snorting pills in my room. Listening to the music reminds me of the tingle in my spine from the Vicodin that I loved so dearly at the time. Hence, the trigger.

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The second album carried me through a portion of my deployment to Iraq. I was now in the Army as a Military Policewoman (oh the irony), and I was “outside the wire” in a war zone on constant missions with the infantry and scouts. Meteora was what I played on repeat this time. I was clean, sober of course, but struggling with the realities of war. Not only was I struggling with seeing humankind at it’s worst, I had a husband there with me experiencing the same thing. Hearing these songs after the breaking news of Chester Bennington’s suicide triggered my PTSD.

Here’s the good news though. I truly believe we are forged by the fire. The fire of these triggers will not consume me like they have consumed so many. While Chester Bennington’s suicide remains a tragedy, it’s a wake up call for those in recovery. Smooth sailing will never last. Triggers will happen and we must face them instead of turning away, which only leads to depression or relapse. Then the depression and relapse leads to suicidal ideation. See the cycle?

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Music is a powerful tool. It can heal, if you let it. It can also trigger repressed memories, situations, and emotions. The musical trigger is often a surprise. Part of a good recovery plan is dealing with those triggers as they come. I have someone in my life who could see I was struggling and encouraged me to get the help needed to get out of the dip, and keep moving forward. A good accountability partner or sponsor can help you recover from triggers too. The key, is to know thyself, and to reach out. I guarantee there’s someone there to listen, even if it’s just me.

I do believe Chester’s soul is resting in peace, and I continue to pray for his family and fans. Tragedy always has the possibility to turn to triumph, this is where hope is born. The triumph in this case is not his life decisions of course, but the impact he has had on his listeners who are in recovery. I hope his death allows those in recovery such as myself, to identify triggers and heal.

In the words of Bono, “Music can change the world because it can change people.”

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